Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut Office of Tourism revealed the results of an economic impact study of the state’s tourism industry, which reported that total direct and indirect business sales supported by the travel industry reached $14.7 billion in 2015 – a 4.6 percent increase since 2013.
The study also showed that tourism employment grew 2 percent since 2013 to reach 82,688 jobs in 2015, the fifth straight year of employment growth.
“The tourism sector is one of the major drivers of Connecticut’s economy,” Malloy said. “It creates jobs, highlights the fantastic array of cultural and entertainment venues in the state and contributes to our high quality of life. Based on the results of this analysis, there can be no doubt that our strategic investment in tourism is fueling economic growth.”
Left unsaid by the governor was the fact that the state’s tourism industry took a significant hit in 2016, when nearly $1.2 million in funds earmarked for Connecticut’s three regional tourism districts was cut. As a result, the Western Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau in Litchfield laid off its four employees and sharply cut back its promotional outreach.
board chairman of the Litchfield bureau
“Without a doubt, Connecticut must invest more money in stimulating travel to, and within, the state,” said Dan Bolognani, board chairman of the Litchfield bureau. “We face enormous competition from our neighboring states and without proper funding we’ll continue to lose market share. The three regional tourism bureaus are advocating for additional funds to be allocated to tourism marketing, both at the state and regional level.
“This industry has clearly shown that tourism marketing spending is an investment that yields immense gain for the state and a robust tourism industry will help to fund the many other programs that Connecticut needs,” he said.
Bolognani said that the regional bureaus “continue to work with legislators to reinstate funding for the regional tourism district. We have a great track record of accomplishment and are currently working on new strategies for 2017 that will help Connecticut rebuild its tourism network. We remain hopeful that the 30-plus-year program of regional tourism will be back on track soon.”
Bolognani also predicted a dip in travel to the Nutmeg State this year. “The loss of revenue to the state will far outweigh the dollar amount that we’re asking to be invested,” he said. “More than 80,000 people in Connecticut work in the tourism industry and the state collects more than $110 million annually in lodging tax alone. Yet we rank next to last when you compare our marketing budget with those of the other New England states and New York.”
Other key findings from the study for calendar year 2015 included:
- Direct traveler spending totaled $8.7 billion in 2015, up 5.1 percent from 2013 and up 3.3 percent annually over the past five years.
- Traveler spending increased across Connecticut from 2014 to 2015.
- Travel generated $1.7 billion in tax revenues in 2015, including $910 million in state and local taxes and $778 million in federal taxes.
Malloy said that the state’s tourism website CTvisit.com attracted 4.2 million visits in 2016.